Dateline: Motel 6. I-35, Austin, TX

We made it to Austin. It's been five days since we left San Jose, four since we left California, three since we climbed halfway up Arizona's Picacho Peak (although we alternated between calling it "pinochle" and "pistachio"), two since we swam the Rio Grande at Leasburg Dam State Park in New Mexico, and it was just yesterday that we descended 750 feet into Carlsbad Caverns before settling down at Guadalupe Mountain National Park on the border of New Mexico and Texas. And then, just this morning, after hiking Devil's Hall trail and spotting 10 lizards and 3 deer, we headed due east for Austin.

Today has been the hottest so far. Also, most mileage logged. Most This American Life podcasts listened to.

We're making a tally of the best signs seen along the road (starting with "STATE PRISON: DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS", "GET OFF FACEBOOK AND INTO MY BOOK -- GOD" from a church in Santa Monica, "DIABETICS: ASSESS YOUR CONDITION" from the entrance to the caverns, and ending with "MARGARITA BREAKFAST TACOS" in the lively Texan town of Fredericksburg, which wins for cutest green town we've passed through yet).

Souvenirs bought thus far include a 25-cent placemat of a spaceman contemplating a crater (doubles as our cutting board while camping), a Nevada Barr murder mystery set in Guadalupe Mountain (a bad idea to read a murder mystery set in the very campground where we're sleeping, as I learned after swearing I saw a mountain lion in the parking lot at 2am, and lay awake breathing heavily for half an hour afterward), a button that reads "Bats need friends too," and some barbeque sauce from Rudy's here in Austin.

Our plan from here is to make our way across Texas to Louisiana, where we'll stay two nights before heading to visit family friends in Slidell and then turning northward. There is still so much to see.

Our first night in Arizona I was struck with a sense of awesome peace that I realized I'd been waiting for a long time to feel. It was like I had finally exhaled. I forgot how, when you travel, you focus so much on the minutia of getting where you're going and appreciating it when you're there, that all the major day-to-day worries seem so fleeting somehow.

With that, Coco & Bigote sign out...

P.S. photos soon!